Community-Accountable Design


Design Justice Jam: Poster Design Workshop

The Poster Design Workshop held on June 2, 2016 at the Centre for Social Innovation in Regent Park brought together community members across Toronto for an evening of community-centred poster designing. Co-facilitators Una Lee and Gracen Brilmyer walked participants through the essentials of poster design — text, imagery and layout — as they created posters individually and in groups that brought awareness to local issues.

Using imagery from the Vision Archive, participants created posters that represented and brought awareness to a multiplicity of issues such as solidarity with Latin America, environmental justice in the Grassy Narrows community in Ontario, welcoming refugees, self-care, and basic income.

Una and Gracen are fellows with the Centre for Technology, Society and Policy at the University of Berkeley for the Vision Archive. The Poster Design workshop was part of a series of workshops to be delivered as part of this fellowship. The Vision Archive’s design jams are a key part of the fellowship project. These 3-hour sessions connect artists with activists, provide concrete design skills, and result in new and remixed content that is then uploaded to the site.

Presenting workshop


The Vision Archive was conceived in 2014 by Una Lee. As a designer working within social movements, she was concerned by some of the trends she was noticing in movement imagery. On the one hand, clipart of raised fists and barbed wire had become visual shorthand for community organizing. On the other hand, some organizations were leaning towards more a more “professional” i.e. bland aesthetic in the hopes of seeming more credible to funders. She worried that these two types of aesthetics were contributing to disengagement from movements.

Knowing that what we see shapes what we believe is possible, Una felt a need to intervene and make an intentional effort to shift the visual culture of social movements. What if social movement imagery were visionary in addition to being critical? And what if it were created by organizers and community members to reflect the world they are working towards?

In May 2014, Una led the first “design justice jam” and through a series of participatory activities facilitated 24 activists and artists in the creation of the first set of visionary icons. In the summer of 2015, Una teamed up with designer/scholar Gracen Brilmyer, front end developer Jeff Debutte, and backend developer Alex Leitch to build

sketch from workshop